In the last few days I’ve been playing with flour and water & feeling like a kid in a muddy slop.
More specifically, I have been wondering about Injera, the Ethiopean flatbread, (and how it can be used in other applications) and crackers. Yes – crackers.
I’ve also been expanding my pasta horizons as well.
So lets start with the crackers!
For quite some time now I have been wondering about how to make these, thinking it couldn’t be too difficult – but that there was something missing. That something missing fell into place about a month ago when I was discussing this issue with Evelyn’s Crackers who do an amazing job on their core product. I was given one piece of advice, and that was all I needed: “lasagne roller”. It all fell into place after that.
I did some other reasoning as well. Like that the flour/liquid ratio was the same as a bread ratio – 5:3; like that salt was variable but would be at least 3% of the flour and go up from there, as saltiness is a key element of a successful cracker; that there is oil – How much? I’ve settled on 10% of the flour weight – mainly the result of a measuring error. That appears to be the basics. You mix the dough, you knead it, you run it through your pasta maker until it is the desired thickness, you bake it in a really hot oven. These predictions turned out to be true – I did not need to deviate on my ratios – it was all quite straightforward.
But – the key to any great cracker is its flavour – and here the possibilities are quite literally endless bounded only by your imagination and what is in your pantry or fridge. I don’t really have guidelines around this beyond a process: start with a little, taste as you go, until it feels right. Do this before you put it through the pasta machine.
So … putting it all together is something of a recipe:
- Turn oven on to 375
- prepare dough: 200g flour, 100g water (or some other flavoring liquid), 10g salt, 20g oil. The water plus oil must give a 60% hydration. Here the 120g of oil and water are 60% of the flour weight.
- Knead dough briefly to thoroughly combine base ingredients
- Add flavours as desired: if you use additional liquid based flavours, you will need to correspondingly add more flour to maintain the hydration. You must weigh these out, and add a little more salt if you go down this road. Some of the dry flavour combinations I’ve used are taken from commercial and atrisinal products: flax/sesame, cumin/fennel, mediterranean herb and pepper, mustard/garlic. Use about 2 tbs dry mix in a 300g batch of dough. Taste to get a sense of how strong it is. You may need to crush any whole seeds as they may tear the dough as it goes through the rollers.
- Once you are pleased with the taste, run it through your pasta maker. The thickness depends on you. I tend to like the rollers set about mid way (#3 position) for the final run through.
- Oil a baking sheet, gently place your sheets on it, brush oil on top. cut them as you desire – or not at all.
- Bake for approximately 12 minutes – assuming you rolled them as thinly as you can get away with. Thicker, and you will need more time. Check them after 12 minutes.They should be browned and crunchy.